Charades, Hangman, Bingo, Puzzles … I think we have all played such games at least once and we absolutely enjoyed them, didn’t we? Imagine incorporating games in your lessons – think about the fun and learning outcome they can create.
Advantages of playing games in lessons
My students absolutely love playing games because they can revise old material or learn new one in a fun and engaging way. Didactic games shape general competences, such as teamwork, leadership, communication and cooperation, or linguistic skills. They are motivating my students in a way I sometimes could not do better. One of the best things about games is that they can be used in every subject – almost every colleague of mine has once tried out a game during their lesson and not only did their students enjoy it but they did, too! However, especially language teachers can profit from games because they allow our students to use languages creatively. Another benefit is that they can be easily adapted which means that they can be used for every class, every level and every age!
Ideas for incorporating games in your language lessons
The following games are an absolute hit in my classes and so easy to integrate! You could, for example, use them as an ice-breaker at the beginning of a lesson, as a revision exercise, as a reserve or to sum up new insights at the end of a unit. Truly, you can fit them in at any time and adjust them to your needs!
Jeopardy is a game that can be used to revise vocabulary, grammar, phrases – you name it! Even though it takes a lot of time in the classroom (about 1 ½ hours) and is best to be used from B1 upwards, my students want to play this game every now and then. Usually I incorporate it at the end of a semester, two to three sessions before the exam. The class is split into two groups and they play as teams against each other. They receive a table with categories (for instance past simple, present progressive, future and so on) and there are about five difficulty levels (100-500). So, let’s say your game looks like this: 100 points for present simple – translating a sentence in your native language into English, 200 points for making a sentence in the present progressive, 300 points for naming the correct tense of a given sentence, 400 points for inserting the correct tense in a sentence with a gap, 500 points for telling a short story about a future event. The teams decide which category and which difficulty level they want to solve – keep in mind: one team receives one task, then it is the other team’s turn, and they have about 3 minutes to do so. When the team’s answer is correct, they receive the respective amount of points, and if not, the category is closed again until it is solved. The points are added together in order to pronounce the winner at the end of the game. Although you need to prepare the tables and come up with good tasks, once you have done that you can easily reuse and adapt it to your needs!
I am using this game as a vocabulary exercise. The students receive a category, for example animals, and they have to name animals starting with the last letter of the previous animal: for instance, if one student says bird, the next one has to find an animal that starts with the letter “d”.
This game will take up more time than the one above but it’s absolutely worth it! It is an adaption of the TV game in which groups have to guess the missing words. I am using that as a vocabulary exercise at the end of four units. Every unit includes various vocabulary items and expressions and the goal of the game is for students to give me as many items and expressions as possible that are part of the unit. So, for example, if one unit is about pollution then the groups have to name respective vocabularies we have acquired. They teams play against one another until one group is the winner. However, I also use this game to practice grammar. Students receive a tense and they have to make sentences in the respective tense.